• Vidhi

Home... is nowhere, is now here?!

I don't know where I belong. No, not like an angsty teenager way. In every sense of the term, I don't know where home is.

I am in India. I got here on April 1. The plan was to see my mom after three years and stay with her for a month. It is 23 days past one month. I am unable to get back home, wherever that is!

I hear that home is where your mom is - yet I am too American for her after all these years living in the US. However, when I am back home in the US, I am constantly reminded by people, places, and laws that I am not from around here. I hear that I speak differently at both locations!

Two years back I was in London briefly for a conference. I explored a bit and came across areas that reminded me of home so much! The people, shops, food, culture, everything. I remember eating at a few authentic Indian food places that tasted just like home. I remember the conversations going as follows -

"This is so good! I have not been home in such a long time, and I miss the food!"

And them saying -

"You speak American English. You don't sound Indian."

Okay. So, not just in India, the language ostracization here as well! Too American in terms of language in the UK. In the US, the city I live in has many older people and, in general, lacks a certain kind of diversification in terms of people of different nationalities. At least, that was the case when I moved here about seven years back. The University wasn't as popular among (as far as I can say) Indian students. There was no substantial international student community, and I can understand the locals having difficulty understanding their language with accents. I naturally adapted.

That is why perhaps I make a special effort to use American English and roll my tongue enough not to have to repeat myself and save everyone from ensuing frustration :)

Yet my English isn't American enough for the US, where I am deemed to be British Indian because of my occasional use of words like biscuits instead of cookies, bin instead of garbage can, lift instead of the elevator (eye roll!), and pronouncing things like "literally can't" (pronounced: letrally cunt) instead of "literally can't" (pronounced: literraly kaant, with a tongue roll)!

The last year has been a difficult one, to say the least. Sir Nick Furry rescued me, and we have been together all the time over the good and bad times of this pandemic. He takes good care of me and gives me purpose to live better for his sake. He is my guardian angel with extra fuzz. I had to leave him with a sitter before I came to India. It was the first time we were not together, after a whole year of being constantly by each other's side or knowing that the other is just a room apart.

They say home is where your dog is. I am trying to get back to my dog for 28 days and counting now. I am part of the population in the US affected by the travel ban (which was supposed to let students travel to the US) because of the alarming rise of Covid-19 spread in India. The funny part is that I know a family friend who traveled to the US after the travel ban was issued and was allowed to go because she has a red passport. She is as much Indian as I am. She is retired and has spent years in India and had no immediate need to travel (school, family, etc.). Don't get me wrong; my comparison is to show the pointlessness of the ban. People I know who are allowed to board that flight come from parts of India that are the worst impacted ones. And yet, here I was from a city with the lowest infection rates and taken every precaution I had, denied boarding at the very last moment. I was all packed and ready and excited to see my bunny :(

I want to argue that I am as much or even a more contributing member of society in the US than any other red-passport holder. Love does not see borders. I puppy pawmissed my doggo that I will be back by May 10. Nick and I, we have an unspoken or unborked rule - we do not break puppy pawmisses. It is like the "unbreakable vow" that Snape was made to take by Malfoy's momma. For the first time, I have to break a puppy pawmiss. And that too because I pose a more considerable risk to the people in the US covid-wise compared to any red passport holder who has been visiting family here for months and taking care of covid patients and so and so!

I feel like I am not allowed back home, and the criteria that decide that judgment is flawed. It is not too hard to see that I am not in the best of my spirits, much to the disapproval of people around me who maintain that I am home. I am in this country after three years of break. These three years were packed with many ups and downs, attachments, heartbreaks, investments, commitments, pawmisses, plans, hopes, dreams. They were packed with life! And the mere color of someone's passport does not decide if their right or need to get back home is more significant than others.

So, I am just going to be here at home, waiting to get back home.

My home :)

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